Choosing where to study after leaving secondary school is a big decision. There’s lots to consider – from the courses on offer to the location to the facilities.

The right decision depends on you and your goals for the future so it won’t be the same for everyone. Whilst it’s common to think about where your friends are headed, your choice should be based on your individual needs for your next steps and what you feel is most important to you. In the midst of studying for your GCSEs, making this decision can feel overwhelming.

Here’s a useful guide to thinking about your next steps:
  1. Choose what you wish to study – explore your options for academic study (like A-Levels) and vocational routes (like T-Levels, NVQs, BTECs and Apprenticeships). Find out what each pathway includes, how they’re assessed and their entry requirements.
  2. Find out where you can study them – not all courses or subjects are available at all colleges and sixth forms, so use our Digital Prospectus to find out who offers what and then visit their websites to learn more about their specific offer.
  3. Consider what’s important to you – make a checklist of key factors -in order – that will affect your decision based on what matters most for your circumstances. This could be the pass rates, the facilities, links to employers, extra curricular activities or commute.
  4. Attend open days – use your checklist to compare different colleges and sixth forms against your criteria to help you make a subjective choice about which ranks most highly.
  5. Submit your applications – remember that you can apply for more than one college or sixth form and leave the decision until GCSE Results Day to confirm your place. Check with each provider on applications deadlines and acceptance policies.
For more information, view our range of articles below to find out more about choosing the right college or sixth form for you and watch our top tips for open days video to help you get the most out of your upcoming visits.

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